Volume 75, Number 20 | October 05 - 11, 2005

Photo by Rachel Breitman

A new James Dean biography is based upon “conversations” with the late actor. Above, author Patricia Leone stands beside her man.

Some people see dead people; she talks to James Dean

By Rachel Breitman

When Patricia A. Leone decided to write a memoir from the point of view of the late James Dean, she didn’t go to the library for her research. Instead, she sought answers from the only one who knew the truth about the short life of the iconic rebel: his ghost.

Moviemaker, director, and president of the architectural and design firm Dakota Consulting, Leone, 54, wrote a play about Dean in 1983 when she was living in Denver, Colorado that later ran off-Broadway. While writing the script of “James Dean: A Dress Rehearsal,” she began to feel the presence of the late star, and saw him hanging around the theater.

Leone, who considers herself a metaphysician and “white witch,” decided to put her magical skills to the test. After training with Laurie Cabot, the “official witch” of Salem, Massachusetts, she believed that she was ready to consciously channel Dean’s spirit to tell his life story. The result is “James Dean: The Lost Memoirs,” which was released right in time for the 50th anniversary of Dean’s fatal, head-on collision with another car on a California racetrack on September 30th, 1955. He was only 24.

Though Leone describes childhood experiences of “astrotraveling,” or going into a meditative state that allowed her to leave her body and journey to other parts of the earth, this was the first time she deliberately channeled a spirit from the past.

“He chose me,” Leone said of the late actor, who she believes had more to tell people about his life, and could not rest until her book was finished. For instance, of the much-debated cause of his car crash, she says, “he was between the worlds. He was very heartbroken about Pier Angeli, and his breakup with her. It isn’t clear to me if he made the decision to die.”

Leone also discovered she shared some things in common with the former bad boy celeb. “There were a lot of parallels between him and myself such as our love for similar cars, like Porsches and MG’s.” The petite blond scribe, who grew up in Mt. Vernon, New York, now keeps many pictures of the late actor in the Meatpacking District office of her architectural firm.

During her James Dean channeling sessions, Leone had visions of previously undisclosed information about the star, including the revelation of early homosexual encounters with a man he called “The Reverend.” She says Dean was a tortured soul who felt anger at being used and abused by Hollywood and a hunger for true romantic connection. He found it briefly with Angeli, the Italian film starlet that he was introduced to by Paul Newman.

Leone’s book is written in a childish prose, with numerous capitalized sentences and exclamation points. Some pages are decorated with dark poetry and drawings inspired by the periods Leone spent in a state of “Alpha,” using crystals, candles and counting to better open herself to Dean’s spirit.

Les Sussman, who is Leone’s publicist, tape recorded many of her channeling sessions. Though he was at first skeptical of her ability to conjure up the ghost, he started to believe her after watching the experience with his own eyes.

“I was astounded at how she would take a few minutes and enter an altered state of consciousness,” said Sussman. He recalled noticeable changes in Leone’s voice, posture, and gestures.

 “The most startling moment was when Dean was talking about his love of motorcycles,” remembered Sussman. “At just about the same time the flame on the candle sort of torched up, and the sound of a motorcycle roared through the office.  Was it a motorcycle from the street?  I don’t know. It sounded more like it came from inside the room than from outside.”

Morgana SidheRaven, owner of the East Village Wiccan store Morgana’s Chamber, said the ability to see and hear the dead is not uncommon.

“I don’t channel, but I do speak to spirits,” said SidheRaven, who teaches classes on religion and candlemaking. “I hear them and I talk to them, but I am not psychic. I don’t think it is as rare as people are lead to believe.”

Nor is it rare for Dean fans to describe having experiences with the late star after his death.

“Another channeler? Egads,” said Sandra Weinhardt, whose website www.deaners.net is a meeting ground for aficionados of James Dean. “There are also women to whom Jimmy comes in their sleep to make love to them,” she added. “Or maybe you will want to include some bits from “normal” people! Please don’t make all Dean fans out to be strange.”

Leone is aware that channeling is a concept that many consumers of her book might find odd. She feels in many ways that this novel is her “coming out as a metaphysician” to the more corporate, architectural world in which she works. But she believes that whatever consequences she may experience professionally from the publication of her work, it is worthwhile to help Dean’s soul find peace.

“When he leaves, it is very hard on me. Now, there’s quietness,” Leone said. She isn’t sure if Dean will move on for good, and she has yet to channel anyone else.  For now, her plans for the future include the renovation of 19 units in the Bahamas, a documentary on women millionaires, and a fictional movie about witchcraft and love in Manhattan called “Potions.”

“I live in a world of magic, creating my business, my car, my Bahamas deal,” said Leone. “This is God’s dance, I just follow.”

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